PepsiCo, Unilever, Heineken and other members of the Cool Farm Institute have launched an online tool to help farmers assess and improve the environmental and economic performance of their businesses.
The carbon-management tool is free for individual farmers; use by supply chain businesses requires a use or membership fee.
In addition to launching the new web-based calculator, developed by Best Foot Forward, the Cool Farm Institute, whose members also include Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Yara and Fertilizers Europe, is inviting other businesses to use the web app and collaborate on agricultural sustainability.
Unilever uses the tool to report its greenhouse gas emissions — part of the metric reporting requirements of the company’s sustainable agriculture code, says Jan Kees Vis, global director, sustainable sourcing development at Unilever.
Tesco trialed the tool with a group of its producers in 2013. As the first retailer to do this, the UK grocery chain was able to suggest improvements prior to the web app’s launch this year. Tesco is now working with a larger group of producers to help them use the tool to track their carbon reductions and resource efficiency, says Lisa Buckley-Hoyle, Tesco group food technical director.
The news comes as other major agri-food businesses are announcing investments in smart technology, big data and software to target improvements in resource efficiency, productivity and climate resilience. The Climate Corporation, which Monsanto recently bought for about $930 million, yesterday announced a new service to help farmers increase agricultural productivity and profits through smart technology and Precision Planting’s hardware and software products.
Last month Monsanto and Novozymes formed the BioAg Alliance to commercialize microbial products intended to help farmers increase crop yields with less input.